How do we work out what is just normal soreness or something more significant? 

How do you know when to report this to your coach/parent or see your local health professional? 

Research states that soccer players who reported a niggle were 3-7 times more likely to sustain an injury within 7 days.

What are Niggles? 

Niggles can be anything from increased soreness, feeling ‘tight’ after any sport specific drill or feeling different to what you may normally respond to from your normal exercise activity. This may be your body & muscular system adapting to changes you are placing on your body from training or changing your exercise routines or they may indicate early warnings of injury.

Research shows these niggles can evolve into injuries that may prevent you from participating in a training session, competitive match, or the continuation of your individual training sessions.  The best way for you as the individual to monitor potential changes or ‘niggles’ is to identify if there have been any major spikes to your training schedule in frequency or intensity. This is even more likely if there has been a previous injury, as the recurrent rate for repeat injury is more likely versus a previously uninjured individual. 

Categorisation of niggles versus injuries comes down to:

‘Time loss’: Injury was defined as an ‘inability to fully participate in football training or matches.

‘Non-time loss’: Injury data was assessed weekly (over 35 weeks) using the Oslo Sports Trauma Research Centre (OSTRC) Questionnaire. A non-time loss injury was recorded when a player/ person self -reported on the OSTRC “full participation but with health problems” (minor) or “reduced participation due to health problems” (moderate).

Athletes / athletic groups that perform at high level – have specific questionnaires, that can assist the medical staff in examining their team throughout the season of competition to ensure they’re getting the most accurate information from their players if a niggle is to occur. For people without this formal monitoing, if there have been any dramatic changes to your training schedule or you physically feel like something is just not right and is impacting on your ability to complete tasks, you are better off getting it assessed by a health professional as the likelihood of it becoming an injury is very high. Preventing this escalation will have you back exercising much faster. So don’t just ignore NIGGLES!